Juliette MThe competition in Los Angeles is fierce for the gourmet; streets, strip malls and hotels overrun with deep menu choices for the discerning. Unfortunately, the healthy competition doesn’t drive prices down. I went south, to Orange County, snooping for value.

I found myself in Newport, exiting the 73 Freeway at Birch and looping around until I had arrived at Juliette Kitchen + Bar for a late lunch (3:00 PM!!!). I was starved and when I saw they offered a burger there was only one thing left to decide… which side?

For fear of being weighted down on my long trek back to Los Angeles, I opted for a green salad (bigger and better than bargained for) to accompany the Juliette burger. Attention was paid to the au courant burger, plated on charcuterie board with a dill pickle spear accent.

Leafy greens and a robust tomato were first to meet the eye. The airy brioche dominated the rest of my landscape view, framing a decent patty that was coated in a fine layer of aged cheddar. After a few snaps of the iPhone I took my first bite, finding a perfect medium-rare on a well-seasoned and crusted patty. Beyond the foundation though, I quibbled with the choice of bun. I’ve eaten a few superb burgers, including Little Bear that successfully played up the strengths of the French pastry roll—using it as a toasted sponge to absorb the combination of jus and kriek spread that spilled freely from their signature sandwich.

At Juliette however, the puffy brioche was painted as an outsized bandit, robbing an otherwise quality sandwich of its balance and left me with many-a-bite that were all bread and veggies.

From a great beginning, a surprising starter to the attractive presentation of the Juliette Burger my late lunch wrapped up with a what-might-have-been-finish. A better distribution of ingredients and perhaps, a compact Kaiser Roll or potato bun, in lieu of the ubiquitous brioche, and I am positive it would’ve been a fairytale ending.